Life finds a way

((I)rimame ni hana ga saku; “Flowers growing from roasted beans”)


An example of something that had declined, failed, or withered flourishing again beyond all expectations. By extension, an impossible event. Something happening that’s about as likely as roasted beans nonetheless sprouting, flourishing, and even coming to flower.


The primary noun here – as marked by the subject-marker particle (ga) – is (hana), “flower.” The action the flower performs is 咲く (saku), “to bloom,” in sentence-final form. To the left, meanwhile, we have a compound noun marked by the particle (ni), in this case functioning as a location marker to show us where the blooming is happening. The compound noun comprises the noun (mame), “bean,” and the verb 炒る (iru), a method of cooking where heat (traditionally an open flame) is used to remove most of the water from food. The verb appears in conjunctive form, which in modern grammar takes on a prenominal role.


Although technically, 炒り豆 can refer to any parched or roasted beans, the most common image is that of roast soybeans, which are still a relatively common snack food and play a role in Setsubun festivities.

This is the (wi) entry in the Osaka iroha karuta set. As with several of the other phrases we’ve seen, it’s attributed to the poetic collection 毛吹草 (Kefukigusa).

It is acceptable to use the phrase without the verb, as 炒り豆に花. Related phrases invoke the image of flowers blooming from dead trees or even stones.

Example sentence:


(“Aa, kessen wa ashita na no ni Kaataa senshu ga kega wo shita rashii. Yuushouki wo toritakatta kedo, irimame ni hana ga saku kanousei ga yori takai mitai.”)

[“Agh, the final match is tomorrow, but apparently Carter’s injured. I really wanted us to take home the pennant, but it looks like getting flowers from roast beans would be more likely.”]


升に炒り豆 (Irimame in a masu.) Image from recipe site Cookpad.

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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